Us and Them.

Scroll down ↓

I’ve been asked of late why I’ve been relatively silent on many of the major issues of the day. It’s something I’ve been thinking on a lot over the last year. What is the best/right way for me to bring my own intention, voice and lens to the world of social justice.

It’s not that I look at any one issue and say “not my fight,” it’s more that I look at them all and say, “they’re about the human condition, I’m human, so they’re all my fight.” So, the question in my mind has been, what do I do with that? How do I share energy and guidance and support in a way that is both meaningful and sustainable for me as one, feeling person with limited capacity?

Do I stake a claim in the election? In equality? In issues of gender, race, violence or grace? If so, how? And, to what end?

Truth is, anything I could have added has been said many times over. I have no interest in speaking just to have my position known. Or adding to the fray, unless it is contributing something unique or meaningful to the conversation.

But, there’s something else.

At least for now, a deeper voice is calling me to serve not by devoting myself to any one issue, but rather by enunciating a larger, well-defined ethos and cultivating a community built around that same set of values and beliefs that serves as a place of safety and support and nourishment for each person in the community to then deepen into whatever specific manifestation of their voice most strongly calls them.

So, I make it clear.

I stand for love.

I stand for compassion.

I stand for kindness.

I stand for dignity.

I stand for respect.

I stand for equality.

I stand for community.

Those who stand for that same ethos will find companionship and support not just from and with me, but from and with the community built around this ethos. Holding this container, at least for this moment, is my primary devotion. It’s the place I feel I can be most of service, while also being most able to sustain myself physically and emotionally.

The example of the Dalai Lama (who, of course, I in no way compare myself to) has been an influence for me. Rather than investing his energies in any singular cause, he stands for kindness and compassion. From that place, a community has formed, that serves as a source of strength for those who want to invest themselves in a specific manifestation of that ethos.

Might that change for me over time? I honestly don’t know. I’m human, deeply feeling and always exploring my own inner world and what my role is as I reflect on what I’m doing on any given day, as well as what I’m doing with my life.

All that said, anyone who knows me enough to care what I think, also knows me well enough to know for what I stand. If you care what I think, you know who I voted for. You know my thoughts on marriage and gender and race. You know my take on education, work and faith.

But, there’s another reason I’ve been quiet, beyond choosing to exalt an ethos and invest myself more broadly in supporting those who support it.

When I’ve looked at what’s happening around the major issues of the day, I’ve come to feel there’s been too much talking and not enough listening. And, all too often, talking for talking’s sake. Staking out positions, not as a way to open dialogue, but as a way to lay public claim to an idea.

And, I often feel like there’s been too much focus on the messengers and their messages and aspirations, and not enough on the conditions that led to the emergence of these human lightning rods.

In the context of the presidential election, for me, this has never been about Hillary or Donald. It has been about what Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters identified in the song “Us and Them” as “with, and without.” Trump won, in no small part, because he gave hope, a voice and a path to those who’ve felt profoundly without, those who’ve felt unseen, unheard, unvalidated, uninvited, to finally be seen, heard and embraced.

Trump’s very existence in the race was a manifestation of pain denied. He didn’t create the wound, he pried off the scab and poured salt on it. Then, said to his patient, “I’ve got a salve,” when so many others were saying, “you don’t exist.” Right, wrong, manipulative, constructive, red, blue, conservative, liberal, male, female? Yes to all.

No doubt, the outlets and expression of this newly stoked fear, division and suffering have rightly horrified many. But, at least now the depth and breadth of these world views has been revealed on a level that, until now, very few have wanted to see, acknowledge or engage with.

This process has been devastatingly painful. So many are grieving and need of a way to come home to hope. That same rawness, though, is also a spotlight and an invitation. It has laid bare this country’s true and divided soul for all to see. Including, you and me. And, along with that, it has opened a window of opportunity to finally have “the conversation.”

Not a one-liner, talking point, barrage of vitriolic takedowns built around egoic and political aspirations. But an actual dialogue, crafted around ideas, societal conditions, the state of suffering and creative avoidance that has left so many so wounded. One born not of talking at, but of talking with. And listening. And, seeing. And validating. Human to human. Had we all done that a long time ago, I wonder if we would be where we are now.

Yes, you may feel everything from profound sorrow to anger bordering on rage. Feel those. They are your truth in this moment. The last thing we need now is more pain denied or repressed. Let it breathe. Then, to the extent you can find the space, go one level deeper and ask, “how profound must the suffering have been to have led those who’ve voted in opposition to my beliefs to do what they’ve done?” Instead of looking for a fight, listen for understanding. Instead of focusing on difference and separation, see and seek sameness and connection. Instead of asking, “how could you?” ask, “who are you?”

That may be brutally hard to access in the heat of this moment. It may take time. That’s okay. The longer-term, healing path forward is not blame. It’s not rage or violence. It is not shame and degradation. It’s not digging in and deepening the divide. Even if you feel all these have been used as weapons against you.

The way home is what is, admittedly right now, an almost impossibly hard to muster compassion. If not for those who ran to lead, then for those whose wounds bled those would-be aspirants into existence, then led them to the outcome we’ve all come to experience. It is about seeing the humanity, the pain, the feelings of helplessness and anger and frustration. It’s about owning our role, your role, my role, in helping to create and unwittingly deepen the divide between with and without. Seen and unseen. Worthy and unworthy.

Aching as so many are, grieving a future that might have been, we have a glimmer of a window right now. To suspend our desire to pounce and, instead, listen. To see ourselves in someone who, maybe days ago, we saw through the lens of venom and contempt. And, maybe still do.

What if they were as terrified as us, and that’s why they chose how they chose? What if they loved their children as fiercely as we do, and that’s why they chose how they chose? What if they struggled to pay the rent and see a future worthy of living, and that’s why they chose how they chose? What if they mourned the loss and sanctity of community, family, integrity and possibility, and that’s why they chose how they chose? Just like us.

What if now, we could open to that. Come together, rather than shut down or run down. Embrace, rather than try to erase? What if, as they tap on the mic of life, our answer back to them is, “yes, we CAN hear you now.”

It’s not about backing down. It’s not about giving up deeply held values or sacred beliefs. It’s not about abandoning ideas and ideals or noble quests. Nor is it about walking away from the path of politics, activism or social justice. Make your voice known. Work to bring about the change that is in your heart. If you are called down that road, walk it.

This invitation is not an “either/or,” it is an “and.” It’s about going one layer deeper. Refocusing not only on the public and political symptomatology, but also on the deeper human societal pathology. Creating stillness before we act. Listening, beyond lip-service, before we re-engage. Bringing compassion back into the conversation. Then, actually having a conversation, rather than an exchange of positions. The goal, not to win, but to understand. To open a channel. And, then, maybe someday, to find a path to rise together.

We are in a moment. A nation-sized flood light shines upon our shredded collective psyche, the tattered remains of an epic battle to be seen and to reclaim a sense of agency. To be with, not without. At any given time, on any given issue, each of us feels we are the ones being forced into a closet, we are the ones stripped of voice and power, we are the forgotten few. And, yet, if we’d just peel away the posturing and assumptions long enough to see, they, those “others,” share these very emotions. And they, just like us, hope for something better.

What if the way forward is not to hold division sacred, but to hold each other sacred? What if, for that to truly happen, it’s not enough to rely on representatives or surrogates, presidents or powers that be. What if that, my beautiful family, is on us?

What if the only way for those who see the world differently to open to the possibility of seeing it as we do, is for us to open to seeing it as they do?

What if we started with a simple question.

So, tell me about your life…

Will it be easy? To open to the conversation, let alone bridge the divide? No. It will, in fact, be brutally hard. Both because of the values and positions we’ve come to accept as absolute truths, and the simple fact that for most, the incision is still fresh. I don’t mean to, in any way, diminish the validity of the pain and dismay so many feel. Or imply that the process of healing will be anything but fiercely fraught. It will not be easy. But, maybe the better question, will it be worth it?

And, really, what’s the alternative? To fester indefinitely in sorrow, hatred and futility. To spend the entirety of our energy raging against a machine that is, in truth, a mirror of a deeper pathology, born of an unwillingness to see the humanity of those who see the world differently and invite them to the table. Isn’t that what brought us here in the first place?

We are in a moment. Feel it. Grieve it. Own it. Cry it out. Scream it out. Run it out. Hug it out. Make your voice known. Lead. Then, let that be a beginning, not an end. Use the spotlight and the emotion as fuel. Not to divide and conquer, but to unite and rise. Before the light fades, and takes with it that rarest of invitations for us to rediscover a more unified state of grace.

+++

Note: Be sure to read the comments to this essay below. They are a powerful adjunct to the conversation, and offer a range of different perspectives that add greatly to the conversation.

You Don't Need a Bribe To Join This Tribe

Plain and simple. Did you enjoy what you just read? Cool, then get more in your inbox every week. And join this amazing tribe of makers and doers. You know you wanna...

102 responses

102 responses to “Us and Them.”

  1. Lisa Milich says:

    I love every word you wrote here. I stand for what you do. Thank you for giving me a voice! I’ve decided to rise beyond strongly held beliefs to understanding, love and compassion. That is the path to heal ourselves and our country. I got trained to facilitate this kind of dialogue and my hope is that I will be able to use these skills toward building love and compassion for one another. That is my social justice.

  2. Paul Jarvis says:

    This echoes exactly how I feel man, thank you for writing it!

  3. Yes. Yes to all of this.

  4. Wonderful, Jonathan — and sorely needed.

    Thank you.

  5. Lorna says:

    I too love what you wrote as I almost always do and I really needed to hear it. Thank you Jonathan.

  6. Ariel snapp says:

    Thank you for the eloquence with which you show grace in everything.

  7. Beverly Bochetto says:

    Brilliant, Jonathan. Thank you for this.

  8. I didn’t get to read all of this Jonathan, but I read enough of it to answer my question, “What would Jonathan like to say about these issues?” And brother, I appreciate the amount I was able to read. Thank you for writing this Jonathan.

  9. LM says:

    It’s the most prosperous angle to take. You Americans will be blessed taking this road. Thinking of you. Thanks J for this message. It is a message of hope and passionately put.

  10. Andrew B says:

    I suggested a simple concrete action that we can all take to achieve what Jonathan is proposing:

    There have been a lot of platitudes and wisdom dispensed in the last 48 hours. But I’m going to stick with an old standby of mine: ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is everything.

    So here is something executable we can all do: in the next six months, get to know 20 people that didn’t vote for the person you voted for. Listen to them, understand their way of life, walk in their shoes for a bit, find out what’s important to them. And then help them understand your perspective and what’s important to you. Don’t do any influencing or convincing, just share and listen.

    We arrived at this point in history because we stopped listening, and not listening caused us to stop being empathetic, and that lack of empathy caused us to stop compromising — and compromise is the cornerstone of democracy. It’s impossible for everyone in a democracy to get exactly what they want. But it’s possible for most to get what they need. The alternative is to live under an authoritarian dictatorship that simply destroys anyone who doesn’t agree with them. The benefits of democracy heavily outweigh the drawbacks (in my opinion).

    If everyone in America (or even 10%) would follow through on this, we’d be much more empathetic to people who are not like us. And we might actually reach some compromises that look good to everyone.

    I’m in. You?

    • Camille says:

      I think this is the path forward for me. And I will start with talking with those closest to me…and then work outward. Thank you for your perspective!

    • deborah harpster says:

      dear andrew,
      your call for action is of top priority and i thank you for
      giving voice to how “we” can begin to hear one another’s stories. to create a productive, powerful and purposeful coalition of listeners, lovers of freedom for ALL and compassion for those who have not, is of utmost importance. yes, being kind and helpful, is how we should treat others and teach our children well from the get go. still, i live in a county (in oregon) where “red signs” are still up everywhere!!! listening to rhetoric that is vitriolic and hateful only makes me more discouraged…those folks who i have “listened to” already, speak strongly with intolerance and racist words. i need/want to be a part of a movement that in 2 years (next interim elections) and then in 4, puts people whose values are worn on their (rolled up) sleeves! people who are willing to serve for the highest good. people whose intentions are to uphold the pledge of allegiance and fight for “liberty and justice for all.” actions speak louder than words. xo

      people who will champion peace and unity.

    • Marvin B says:

      I am absolutely in Andrew. Thank you for your candid response and this is exactly one of the best ways to begin healing.

  11. Susan says:

    Thank you, this is such an elegant expression of what my heart has been saying. May our better angels step forward now.

  12. Kyla Ledlow says:

    Beautifully and powerfully stated and, even more importantly, beautifully and powerfully “asked” – because your questions are what open the door for conversation and understanding. I feel the same way, Jonathan. Thank you. I’m sharing this – it needs to be shared.

  13. Clay Hebert says:

    Beautiful words, from a beautiful soul. Thank you, brother.

  14. Susan Lane says:

    Thank you Jonathan, thank you. You suggest an option full of hope.

  15. Red says:

    This is a mirror to the conversations I’ve been having with everyone I’m leading in my tribe. Listening, looking for the useful parts where we share values and ideas and beginning with those places. The work to educate allies across the board into action for issues we can all believe in.

    The first step is listening, so I am known as a person anyone can come to and be heard and treated with respect and civility.

    I’m grateful for this article to share with others.

  16. Thank you so much for this Jonathan. I’ve been trying to find a way all week to say exactly what you said in here!

    It’s got to be about individual, personal conversations and connections.

    It’s got to be about love, and empathy, and trust.

    I’m so grateful to you for this essay, wishing you all the best.

  17. Thank you for this Jonathan. I felt completely calm and peaceful reading and absorbing it. I’ve said my purpose is to exemplify resilience and today I’m adding “to encourage curiosity to deepen understanding of all things.”

  18. One Love.
    Human to human….love listening to your words.
    Thank you.

  19. Janet Burton says:

    Thank you Jonathan for your quiet strength. It is easy to get lost in the noise. Thee last week hasn’t really changed anything for me – I still hold true to my beliefs. But it has made me think harder about WHAT I do with those beliefs. Do I consciously reach my hand out out to those who are different than me, do I really listen to what people have to say, including those on the “other side of the aisle”? It’s what we do day in and day out, when people are watching and when they’re not, that shows our true measure – much more than our words alone.

  20. Sonjia says:

    Thank you!!!!

  21. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what I’ve been feeling… Love, empathy, kindness… All are the path to healing… And bridging the divide… In this I have faith…

  22. Judy says:

    Thank you Jonathan!

  23. Mary Grim says:

    Needed that. I have been searching within myself, looking and listening trying to find the ground again. To see the beginning and not the end. Not for first time you have brought a voice to me, in this case yours, that I hear and feel and know to be true. It is the voice heard by my better angles. It is the voice that I hear and it feels right, it feels true, it feels like ‘yes’. Right now it helps me feel connected, it inspires me to keep faith that that there is a path that can allow us to unite. I take comfort in and draw strength from your words. Thank you Jonathan Fields.

  24. Ije says:

    Thank you Jonathan. This has got to be the best response I have seen about this new reality of a Trump presidency. I agree that lots of people have been talking just for the sake of and that doesn’t change a thing. It only adds to all the noise.
    The fact that Trump won is a true revelation of the unspoken sentiments, frustrations and anger of a lot of Americans. The fact that a candidate that in a lot of people’s opinions is the worst kind of candidate for a position as important as the US president could be voted in because the found people’s pain points and became their voice means that as you correctly said means that the government needs to listen more. Thanks to Trump a conversation can start on how to balance things out. How to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
    Thank you again. You are a wonderful person and the world needs more people like you.

  25. Cynthia says:

    As always….Thank You Jonathan! You always find a way to realize the very deep center of the equation and express it to the individuals of our community. The paradigm is shifting for all to go deep into their own center only to rise with love, compassion and gratitude for all to share.

  26. Niya says:

    Jonathan, finally I am breathing as I read an essay that touches my own values. The divisiveness and violence against one another is terrifying right now. Perhaps this is the cracking of the egg that was pressure filled before the election. It’s about humanity and compassion and waking up and listening to one another. Your essay is so on the mark for me. Thank you.

  27. Angie Byrd says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for the work you do in the world with your words and your voice. It’s a profound demonstration of power, not force. Power that is filled with grace, tenderness, compassion and thought. Just…thank you.

  28. Matthew Eng says:

    Thank you for this post! Beautifully written.

  29. Eva Papp says:

    Hi Jonathan. Lovely and true. Tomorrow I’m calling the middle school in Michigan where kids were caught on video chanting “build the wall, build the wall” to talk to the principal. While I feel outrage, I know it’s the time for compassion and understanding. It’s been an interesting internal process and an opportunity for that compassion to speak. I think it’s this choice of what we do, and more importantly how we do it, in the next years that will create the possibility for true healing.

  30. Beautifully said. Bravo!

  31. Bryan says:

    That’s exactly it Jonathan! It’s about the “human condition” and using our collective genius to find ways to generate greater life for all. Thank you for sharing!

  32. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful, measured , deep, insightful point of view . Empathic listening is a good exercise to practice and usually will leave you with a deeper understanding of yourself and other. It is a skill and gets easier with practice:) This upward spirals out into the world . I love that you waited for things external and internal to settle before writing this. It is heart felt and beautiful.

  33. Very refreshing and well said

  34. amy melious says:

    Thank you for your words Jonathan. Thank you for taking on the deep diving task of finding them in yourself, and then making them into the shape of something to be shared with everyone. This kind of effort- a real effort to communicate- is an act of love.
    I appreciate it.
    Where i live, someone once made a whole in the door of a small chapel overnight. I was heartened by the response. The folks that the newspaper interviewed said that the act might have meant that someone just really wanted in, and that perhaps the open hours needed to be expanded.
    That’s listening.
    There is hope.
    May we all take heart and carry on – eyes on the horizon, feet on the ground.

  35. Mike C says:

    The most clarity I’ve heard or seen during this crazy season we are in, thank you Jonathan!

  36. Hi Jonathan. Thank you so much for putting into words some of the thoughts and feelings for so many of us. As you say, it’s never an either/or situation, but instead an both/and. Reminding us of that and offering a direction for both our emotions, our thoughts and our hopes for the future is very important in these days. May we all be light we hope to experience in the world. ~Kathy

  37. Annemieke Jordan says:

    Beautifully stated and I am sharing it with my community. This needs to be read. Some may be ready today, for others it may take longer. I have hope that we can truly listen to one another and not continue with choosing sides. Lets move forward in love and compassion!

  38. Linda says:

    Thank you Jonathan. I can always count on you to put into words what I know in my heart.

  39. Penny says:

    What you write here is so right on many levels. It isn’t only the difference in policy that upsets me. It is the potential for people of different races and religions to be treated differently. People are scared because they don’t feel safe. That’s more than different trade or economic policies. The Civil Rights legislation of the 60s and the Voting Rights Bill has lost its ability to protect people. I value that everyone’s voice be heard. Hillary won the popular vote over 1/2 million people. Donald won the electoral college vote (an old structure). What do we value more? I would like people to listen and discuss the type of election system we want. Understanding the negative feelings people have is critical and providing some ways to change is at the foundation of change. I have anger too about all that isn’t being done. There must be additional ways for people to share and learn. What do we do when a candidate uses people’s fears and anger (emotion) to leverage their vote instead of giving ways to change? Reflecting, discussing, questioning, listening is critical in my process. What comes after that?

  40. antland says:

    Thanks for this. I feel deeply that we require a conversation and an immersion into inclusivity. Exclusivity will show itself to be a burden that we, as a species, cannot shoulder. Recently I read about a man who had spent much of his life incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. When he was finally exonerated and released he was asked, almost apologetically, whether he thought that his sentence had had any positive effect on his life. His reply was that it had taught him to; ‘Speak fast and listen slow’.
    Be well.

  41. Tricia says:

    Very nicely said. However, I do know people who are living quite comfortably, who have good salary or comfortable retirement, who are not left behind. And yet, they subscribed to the vitriol, the hatred of someone who doesn’t look like just like them, the reluctance to share in USA greediness. That thinking does not lend itself to a joined humanity. We can’t, in good conscience, give them a pass.

  42. Thank you for your thoughtful words so sorely needed. Thank you for shining a light on those that felt disenfranchised and allowing everyone to see “them” in a different light.

  43. Diane says:

    I’ve been preaching this approach for days, but I am now feeling defeatist at my attempts to execute it. All I’m getting is the same shouting and accusing tone attacking my beliefs, coupled with an unwillingness to even entertain the mutual understanding I seek. I’m not sure wheee that leaves us. I’m feeling very angry at “them” right now and not sure what to do with that.

  44. Dear Jonathan,

    I believe most of the people of your wonderful country, which I love so much, do stand for love, compassion, kindness, dignity, respect, equality and community.
    The problem is they – like almost everybody else in the rest of the world – have been played against one another by powerful forces which want us to fight each other instead of confronting the real source of our problems.
    We are being pushed into submission by a powerful cabal which controls our mass media. We have been kept in the darkness about technological and medical advances which dwarf science fiction, about financial corruption which crushes common people´s legitimate aspirations, about US/NATO foreign policy agendas that intentionally spread terrorism, war and destruction around the world, Lately, these policies have consisted in threatening the whole world with nuclear war, especially during the US presidential campaign.
    I believe if Americans knew about all this, their differences, as well as all other oposed poles around the world, would quickly dissapear, in a common desire for world peace and constructive development.
    Maybe the elections will help people in the US realize the truth, which is perhaps the most trampled upon value in the Western world. People from other countries, like my own, Chile, have been direct victims of these policies, and so we are not as blind and easily manipulated by the media (which here, as in all the Western countries!) lies and dissembles like ther is no tomorrow!
    It is sad to see so much energy wasted into non existent disputes, when there is one great cause that would unite us all. One agenda, one heart, one mind: World Peace, Respect and Equality for all!

  45. Laura says:

    Thank you for putting my thoughts into written form! Another layer to seek is “who am I?” So many have moved away from their own inner work that they have fallen into the trap of hate and judgment. We are all human, but we also have a deeper world within to explore and draw strength from. Once explored the wisdom from that realm can bring more strength and unity to our community and inclusion for all since we all come from the same spark. Thank you for bringing clarity at a time of chaos.

  46. Alexandra Rengel says:

    Thank you for your essay. I feel that I have been grieving since election night. You offer a way to find peace in these tumultuous times.

  47. Charlene Ribaduo says:

    Very well said!

  48. Tracie says:

    Jonathan, since I’ve been acquainted with your work I’ve felt your writing and shared thoughts to be articulate, considerate, and thoughtful. I’ve also appreciated the insight you’ve offered in various topics. Here, I’m going to agree to disagree. Thinking back on the past week the McDonogh Three come to mind. Specifically the woman, then a young girl of 4 years old, Ruby Bridges who was one of the 3 brown children to integrate a school in Louisiana. I think of school integration because it is still an issue we tiptoe around where there are a majority of Americans who didn’t agree (Still!). As a double minority- a woman and a person of the browner skin persuasion- I wish that we could have more honest discussions about the issues that ail us in this country. The most ferocious beast this country has to face being racism. So many of us are so busy congratulating and clapping each other on the back about being so open-minded and bringing our reusable bags to the grocery store and eating our kale that we never stop to ask how we truly FEEL about a given situation. Truth (based on actual facts) is often an unwanted party guest. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be invited. So back to school integration…how many of those citizens felt they were being left behind and felt integration an awful idea? How many of those Americans (those who weren’t in favor of integration) felt no one was listening to them? But aren’t these are questions I could ask of most major progressive shifts forward in time? The Civil Rights Movement of course, the Industrial Revolution, the internet…All people deserve to be heard and listened to but not all thoughts and ideas deserve validation. So often in America we tell ourselves not to focus on the bad stuff and the negative feelings and to move forward so that we can’t get past this bad part to the good part. I feel that’s how we got here. We have to acknowledge when people of unsavory nature have said and done things that are in fact truly unsavory and that we don’t want to represent us as a nation. Up to this point that’s how we’ve progressed in certain areas. That’s not what we are doing here. I want us to be better and stronger. I want us to tell the truth to ourselves and others. I want us to progress forward not go backward. Glazing over things and insisting that every negative reflection deserves validation isn’t a great start. I always have hope that we will improve though.

  49. Jeanette says:

    This is just the voice that is needed now, everywhere. Listen, learn and love. Thank you for your deep humanity.

  50. Tom Nymberg says:

    Exactly! Great wisdom from looking deeper, past intitial visceral emotions. By viewing it from a wider angle we are able to see more in common than in what divides. The greatest advances in social change came from individuals who did just that. They fought the instinct to “fight back” and instead listened openly, without judgement, then found a way to move forward, together. Think Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and others. The high road always leads to the best possible result, but it is longer and more rocky than any other road, and it takes a great patience and a willingness to remain in dialogue. Perhaps that is why it is the road less traveled. Let’s commit to remaining on that road and view this moment as the start of a grand opportunity.

  51. Kerra Bolton says:

    Jonathan, I respect you for living what is in alignment and true for you.

    I must do the same.

    I am responding to this post publicly because my question, in part, prompted it.

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”

    But Dr. King never lived to see the first black President of the United States because he was assassinated.

    Now, I grew up a low-income, black girl in the United States. I have felt the depth of rage that comes from being unseen and unheard. I understand how the people who voted for Trump felt and their desire to establish a sense of lost dominance by “taking the country back” and “making America great again.”

    The people who will most need your love, compassion and understanding are those who will be further marginalized by the wall in the United States Trump built and used to climbed to get to the White House.

    On Wednesday morning, parents of black and brown children struggled to explain to them how a man who has expressed racist, misogynistic, bigoted sentiments is now President-elect of the United States.

    The same is true for the parents of gay, lesbian and transgender youth.

    And soon, these very same parents will have to explain to their children how to protect themselves against the “stop and frisk” policies that Trump has promoted.

    They will have to explain to their black and brown children that being good, non-threatening and speaking “correct” English will not protect them.

    These black and brown children won’t understand maneuvering to win back the U.S. Supreme Court or reversing Roe v. Wade or ending the Affordable Care Act.

    All these children will know is that they now live in a militarized country for whom their very existence is a threat that could be eliminated because a white person felt “scared.”

    The healing that the United States needs is not about those “other” people — meaning the people who voted for Trump, the people who felt dispossessed, the angry voters or the third party voters. No, those voters knew exactly who Trump was and they voted for him.

    The healing that the United States needs is within individuals, specifically about race. As a white friend said to me last night, “no one gets out of a system of hate without it scarring their hearts.” And that includes those who have benefited from the system as well as those who are oppressed.

    And so, while standing for equality and compassion sounds lovely, from this vantage point, it also sounds like a dangerous illusion that will ultimately cost thousands of lives.

    Here’s the other thing I’ve learned from this election — we expect too much from our leaders. We expect them to do and say the things we want them to do when, in reality, they are doing and saying the things that are already aligned with their integrity.

    We must know when to dig in and have the hard conversations and when to part ways because the differences are too great.

    In either case, we must save ourselves. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

    With fierce love always,
    Kerra

    • Marvin B says:

      Kerra – this is so very well said. Thank you for sharing this. I completely agree with you. There is much to fear. However, by having people share their individual perspective, we can learn by listening little by little. Please continue to share because there will be people who are willing to listen, even people who may not have listened before this election.

    • Karen says:

      Hear, hear, Kerra. I am all about compassion — I base my life’s work on it — but at some point, you have to put your stake in the ground and say “this is wrong.”

      Racism is wrong.
      Discrimination is wrong.
      Misogyny is wrong.

      And regardless of whether it is motivated by fear, it is wrong. Much of the evil of the world has been motivated by fear — it doesn’t make it any more excusable. And it is important that everyone — not just those of us who are among the disenfranchised — say so.

      • Jonathan Fields says:

        Karen – Completely agree, and made this more explicit in my reply to Yvonne’s offering below. Racism, discrimination and misogyny are not okay. So sorry if what I wrote in my original thoughts did not convey that in clear enough terms. I’m grateful for your contribution to the conversation (and also for the beautiful body of work you are creating in the world).

    • Danielle says:

      Thank you…we must be clear & courageous, as well as compassionate.

    • Danielle says:

      Thank You, Kerra Bolton.

  52. Elsa Mora says:

    I believe that chaos has its own purpose. Just like fear activates our survival instincts and it gives us extra stamina to do brave things, chaos tries to tells us something and we need to listen to it.

    We instinctively know that the world is a constant tension between wrong and right, light and darkness, positive and negative. In a perfectly reasonable world more positivism would mean less negativism and therefore happiness, but we know that it doesn’t work that way in real life.

    All the important changes that happened not only in the smaller space of a single person’s life, but in this society and the world as a whole came from brave, fearless confrontation and from standing up and going against the grain for the sake of what was right, like Rosa Parks and so many others did.

    We all know that there isn’t a single answer to what we are going through at this time. Maybe what we need is a variety of approaches, as long as it moves us forward and not backwards.

    Like Dalai Lama said: “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

    I passionately believe in taking action.

    Respectfully,
    Elsa

  53. This is exactly how I feel, I refuse to feed into fear. If anything this entire election has made me “lean in” more into my mission as a lightworker, helper, healer and promoter of unity. Thank you for this!

  54. Katerina says:

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  55. Michael says:

    Thank you, Jonathan, for such an insightful eloquent comment on a political event that seems like an earthquake. Hidden forces, tensions have found expression. The unattended losses and fears of diverse communities have erupted into revolt and chosen a crude ‘savior’. A necessary Caliban to affront our complacent righteous ‘civilization’.
    It is a crisis, an opportunity. We can embrace our sense of shock, disgust and fear but maintain our trust, hope, belief in common human needs and aspirations. We have already made spectacular progress over the past 70 years. I think it is very unlikely we will return to despotism, and democracy, in its various forms, is a resilient and widely respected political system. A crisis can invigorate it. I agree with Jonathan’s view that a deeper and more patient listening is called for.

  56. Heather says:

    Thank you Jonathon for a moving, eloquent essay.

  57. deborah harpster says:

    dear jonathan,
    i am grateful to read your words today and thank you for putting in time, effort, talent and passion to write and share your beautiful manifesto. thanks be to all the other people who have responded, too. it is when we know we are not alone that dark clouds can begin to part. still, i want and need more concrete ways that i can be actively working to create CHANGE now! just think, if everyone who is connected through your “good life project” banded together with other like-minded communities, surely baby steps would grow into big footsteps. what do you think? xo

  58. Yvonne W says:

    Yesterday, my friend, a woman of color was cornered by a white man who grabbed and threatened her right there in the open daylight in New York City because apparently it’s now ok to do so. Two days ago, I was on a field trip with my daughter and 90 third graders when one blond boy began chanting “everybody vote trump” and taunting right in the face of a dark skinned Indian boy. Reports of hate crimes, harassment, terrorizing minorities have flooded our lives since the election. It is open season now, bigotry and hate is normalized. People can do whatever they want to people of color and minority groups.

    I am one of your biggest and most die-hard fans. GLP is my family and I have been given so much for which I am eternally grateful for. Until recently, I have been reticent about race, choosing the avenue of positive relationships and compassionate mindful engagement as my way of being the change I want to see. I have avoided talking about these issues to keep from being put in a box or stereotyped as an “angry black female” but I am learning the importance of diversity even in minority perspectives. One size does not fit all.

    As soon as your article was posted, I received messages from women of color in the GLP community expressing their hurt, marginalization and disappontment about your stance. They felt hopeless and wanted to disconnect rather than respond. I hadn’t read it then but was surprised at how much pain they were experiencing. Now that I have read it, I understand why.

    As a GLeePer, Christian, unicorn, optimist, idealist and empath, I wholeheartedly agree about the need for compassion, respect and grace in this tumultuous climate. I do agree we should think about the marginalization and disenfranchisement that caused Trump’s election and the need to understand and empathise with his supporters. I see what you are saying.

    But I guess your article is focused on your white readers who are upset about the election.

    You are forgetting a key part of your audience. You are forgetting your readers and GLeePers who are also marginalized – people of color, GLBTQ, minority women and minority religions. To not mention them at all and their marginalization, fear, oppression and disenfranchisement to only focus on the concerns of the Trump supporters is quite alarming to me.

    Because, for me, as a woman of color and immigrant reading your article feels very like Stockholm syndrome. I am to join everyone in feeling sorry and having compassion for those voted to promote bigotry, commit hate crimes, marginalize others while no one addresses my own oppression?

    I can’t stop thinking about the Nazis. To me this is like asking everyone including Jews to have compassion for those who remained silent or supported the Nazis (which is understandable – everyone needs empathy and compassion) and then not address the Jews and the oppression, trauma, genocide, ethnic cleansing, suffering, pain, they were experiencing and continue to do so to this day.

    It is like someone coming to your house to beat one of your children who looks different because they were scared your child would beat them first. And then telling your child who is bruised, crying and traumatized to have compassion on the attacker and to understand where the attacker is coming from. Yes, that is true but will you address your child who is crying, bruised, traumatised and scared that the bully or attacker will return? Will you tell the attacker not to do it again? Will you advocate for the child and let them know they have a safe space with you? Because if you don’t address the concerns of that child, they would no longer trust that you care about them and not feel safe in your house.

    I will get a little personal here. Last year, I was physically attacked by a female Trump supporter and a guest in their home. Her spouse did not say anything. Even a year later. Nothing was said. When I expressed anger, sadness, frustration and trauma at her behavior, Her relatives made excuses saying she was scared and felt threatened. She was getting old etc. No one ever asked how I was feeling. I was a strong resilient female of color, she was an older white woman. And when I expressed feeling violated i was told to get over it. The message to me was I dud not matter. My feelings, needs or story did not matter. She was more valuable.

    This feels like what is happening right now. We are all family and someone is threatening and bullying some of our members who are a little different and we are extending compassion understanding and empathy and all ears to them because they are afraid but ignoring, minimising and trivializing the experiences of our own family members. Are some more worthy of understanding because of their whiteness? What is going on here? Who are we?

    I am not saying this is an us and them issue neither. But if we are opening dialogue and extending grace, let us do it for EVERYONE, not forgetting those who are already feeling a lot of shame from being overlooked, minimized and invisible even as their oppression escalates in plain sight.

    I believe everyone is doing the best they can. Everyone has to do the work to find the expression of light most aligned with who they are in a way that is sustainable and most effective. I also believe that when we know better we need to do better. We can not afford to hang back in our echo-chambers while our friends are being bullied and oppressed. Evil only needs the silence and inaction of good men to prevail. Will we do what the Germans did while the Jews were undergoing annihilation? Will we remain silent and seek to understand the Nazis while ignoring the Jews?

    This is where I am right now. I have been struggling in silence. But I choose compassionate action, understanding, respect, grace, presence, love, hard conversations, encouragement for the oppressors, when I encounter them yes, but right now we also have to prioritise the oppressed.

    This is a hard post to share – but I can see that this is a time for stepping up and saying the hard things hopefully speaking the truth in love.

    All wriiten in love by your die-hard fan.

    • Kerra Bolton says:

      Yes, to all of this, Yvonne. I am so proud of you for standing up to be heard.

      Thank you for giving voice to those of us who are learning to unmute ourselves.

    • deborah harpster says:

      huge cheers for your bravery, yvonne. indeed, your experiences (and those of many others) NEED to be heard and addressed. i am reminded of many decades ago when i was a college sophomore at san jose state university. as one of about 400 other students in a “black history class”, the professor, dr. harry edwards, quickly announced, “now, all you white honkies get out of my class!” at first we thought it was a joke but soon realized he meant what he said! shaken up, we left in droves only to be summoned back to take our seats once again. his point? “THIS IS WHAT A PERSON OF COLOR FACES EVERYDAY. we are dismissed, detested, discriminated against on the basis of the color of our skin. period. how did it feel to be banished without any reason other than racist beliefs?” for me, i have shed many a tear knowing that 45 years later, our country consists of so many people who still hate and fear one another due to ignorance and
      intolerance. we all must speak up. we all must set the right example. we all must take the time to understand how it feels to be disenfranchised and attacked because of our skin color, culture, religion, etc. it is up to all of us to “return to the room” and make these wrongs, rights. peace out!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yvonne and Kerra –

      First, thank you, thank you, thank you. For being amazing women and for sharing your voices here and beyond.

      Reading both of your comments, I’m left somewhere between heartbroken and grateful. Heartbroken to hear of the pain you’ve both endured. And twice again, to think that something I offered with only the intent of healing led you to feel further marginalized, along with any others in our community. And grateful, because you trust me enough to engage with me and not walk away, and I get to learn from you both, and from these conversations.

      I actually shared the final edit of this essay with a small group of close friends who are honest with me, and asked for their thoughts before publishing it. Included in that group were people of color and fluid sexuality. Their universal feedback was, “it’s great,” send it out. So, I did. Which is part of why I’m so upset by how this had landed with you and any others who’ve felt that I don’t care.

      My intent in sharing these thoughts was to steer the conversation in a different direction. Not to say “this is the real problem,” but to say “this is another part of it that seems not to be getting attention. So, let’s fold this into the mix.”

      When I wrote “anyone who knows me enough to care what I think, also knows me well enough to know for what I stand. If you care what I think, you know who I voted for. You know my thoughts on marriage and gender and race. You know my take on education, work and faith,” my assumption was that this made my positions clear. I truly believed that anyone who knows me, does know what’s in my heart. So, I didn’t feel I needed to make that more explicit. I see now, maybe that is not true. So, let me be more direct. Racism, sexism, misogyny, discrimination, violence or degradation in any form, is not okay. Those who engage in these behaviors do not get a pass.

      This is also why I specifically wrote later in the essay, “It’s not about backing down. It’s not about giving up deeply held values or sacred beliefs. It’s not about abandoning ideas and ideals or noble quests. Nor is it about walking away from the path of politics, activism or social justice. Make your voice known. Work to bring about the change that is in your heart. If you are called down that road, walk it. This invitation is not an “either/or,” it is an “and.'”

      By including that, I believed I was making it clear that I am not suggesting we all look the other way and don’t hold oppressors and provokers of violence accountable. I was trying to say that both activism, action, leadership and investing substantial effort in change can and should happen. This is a powerful, needed and valid path. My language was meant to speak to all, including people of color, GLBTQ, minority women and minority religions. That is why I ran the draft by some of those very people in our community before publishing it. My intent was to say, “yes, this matters, and at the same time, there is also something else going on here that not many are talking about, so let’s bring it into the conversation, too.”

      I’m so sorry, again, if this was not well-enough defined to make clear my support for the path of activism and accountability, and non-acceptance of discrimination and violence, as well as the complimentary exploration compassion not just for white people, but for all.

      Please know, too, my intent was and is not to say, in any way, that white readers are more worthy of compassion than anyone else. I truly do believe you know me well enough to know that is not my heart. It was simply to say that, in any culture, be it US or any other country, whenever there is a perception of with and without, even within the same race, gender, or faith, fear and anger arise that almost always leads to division followed by bad things. I was trying to move the conversation more broadly to “with/without,” to expand its relevance beyond the major divides we’re all experiencing in this country right now.

      In that context, on a more global scale, I absolutely agree it’s important to hold people accountable to their behavior, and at the same time, the long-term solution would benefit from including a dialogue that tries to bridge the gap between those who have and who are seen, and those who have not and are unseen.

      I think this entire dialogue shows the complexity of the dynamics at work on our culture today, along with the effect of the history that we each bring to this moment in time.

      I am so deeply sorry if my intention was not clear through what I wrote and if, through that, I created a sense of division or marginalization within our own community. Please know, I love and respect you both and am grateful for this conversation.

      With a whole lot of love,

      JF

      • Nancy Seibel says:

        I have been struggling and struggling deeply with how to come to a place that encompasses more than one truth. One of these is that Trump and his administration pose real threat to our democracy, our civil liberties, and to the safety and survival of all marginalized groups in our society. Not only is the US threatened, the world is threatened. Another truth is that we must act in compassion and love if we hope to heal the huge divides in our country, those based on privilege, power, race, gender, religion, and immigrant status. We need to face and name the very real dangers in order to recognize them and take steps protect ourselves and others. We need to realize that an offer of compassionate listening is not always going to be met with a welcoming response. It’s a tough place to be, to seek hope, healing and compassion, and at the same time to recognize true danger. It’s been hard for me to articulate this, and I think I have fumbled it a couple of times. But now the words are becoming clearer and serving to guide my actions. Your post and the responses here have helped me find greater clarity. It is comforting to read and participate in this conversation, with all it’s honesty and real effort to deeply communicate our truths.

      • Kerra Bolton says:

        Dear Jonathan:

        Thank you for your thoughtful, considerate response. I know our words have been heartbreaking for you.

        I am going to respond a bit here and then switch to a private channel out of respect for our personal relationship.

        You are brave to take a stance, especially in this divided, confusing, messy world. It means something to say “I stand for equality. I stand for compassion. I stand for kindness” and to offer a path forward.

        It especially seems risky as an entrepreneur who engages a variety of people with different life experiences, goals, political viewpoints etc.

        On some level, it might seem like a “betrayal” (not the best word, but the only one I have) when people you genuinely like and have had personal relationships with read what you’ve written and don’t find the healing and the peace you intended. In fact, they encountered just the opposite.

        It may make some people think, “Why the hell did I even bother? I am NOT doing this anymore. It hurts too much.”

        That last point, in particular, is why I’m responding to you publicly.

        Jonathan, I want you to KEEP trying. I don’t need you to be perfect. I need you to KEEP SHOWING UP.

        I know that your intentions were good, honorable and true. I know that you were writing with your heart and intentions aligned. It came out in your beautiful prose.

        However, I would not be aligned with my heart and my intentions if I didn’t hold up a mirror. It would have been out-of-character for me not to speak up.

        As Yvonne and Nnnena have expressed, I felt excluded and further marginalized when I read your post, especially since I know that our conversation was a prompt.

        I know that wasn’t your intention and I know that other people of color do not share my views. And that’s okay too. Disagreement doesn’t invalidate my position. My freedom is not dependent on other people’s approval.

        I am glad that you said something, Jonathan. It was time. It might not have turned out the way you had hoped. Nevertheless, you have inspired the people who commented here and the hundreds, if not thousands, who read and didn’t comment.

        So, it’s okay. We’re good. I still love you.

        Warmly,
        Kerra

      • Yvonne W says:

        Dear Jonathan,

        Do you remember walking with me, on the winding paths at camp GLP? You asked how I was doing, knowing I was about to embark on the hardest journey of my life. You listened quietly and patiently as I rambled on and then you reached for my hand, holding it as we walked?

        I do.

        It was a seemingly random and kind gesture. To others, probably not a big deal, but to me it meant the world. And as I went on to have the worst year of my life, I would sit in meditation daily, tears streaming down as memories of that moment played in my mind. You see, for me, it became a divine symbol that even though I was in hell, I was not alone. I was held, and loved and heard and seen. Grace, empathy, love, compassion, presence… That memory carried me the whole year.

        Do you remember sitting with me at the Chicago GLP immersion retreat? I was still a raging fangirl who couldn’t find the words but needed to talk to you because I was struggling with the uncertainty and overwhelm of starting a new business as a mom of 2 young kids? You sat there listening, nonjudgmentally, taking it all in. A calm presence. You gave me permission to take my time, respect my path and not beat myself up for not keeping up with others. It was the first time I had sat with you and your grace stayed with me. You didn’t have the time or bandwidth but you cared and somehow carved out a safe space where I felt seen and heard.

        And that is what I have always experienced with you and GLP… Even before I met you, I have always felt a deep connection with your work… Your podcasts have changed the trajectory of my life. You have been God’s gift to me.

        GLP has always felt like home. It has been a safe space for me, a sense of belonging for this third culture adult and recovering friendly loner. It has been the place of nurturing, inspiration and connection – a place where I have felt loved, valued and accepted just as I am. And I am fiercely devoted to you and my GLeePer Family.

        I love you.

        Thank you for baring your soul and responding so vulnerably, humbly and definitively about your stance. I am proud of you for speaking up and saying something with the initial post. Thank you.

        I know you wrestled with it for a long time and it couldn’t have been easy to step out like that. I know your heart and how you wanted to serve from an aligned space. I understand and I love you for that. I know you did the best you could and you felt you were putting yourself out there. And I understand how heartbreaking my feedback was for you.

        Giving that feedback was hard. Honestly, I have been heartbroken about the pain you are experiencing right now from it.

        We are family. GLP is my tribe. You mean a lot to me and I am in this for the long haul. I know that our tribe is growing and this challenge is happening in preparation for the beautiful souls that are joining us. And as family that loves one another, we have to have the hard conversations and make changes as we prepare for growth. No challenge, no change. If we aren’t stretched out of our comfort zones, we will not experience the increase in capacity or capabilities we need for the next level. I am wholeheartedly committed to your mission to incite and inspire possibility and belonging. It is out of this deep devotion that I stepped out of my comfort zone and shared some hard truths. And for the mission and those I know who will be served by it, this temporary pain is worth it. Not all pain is harmful. Good will come of this.

        So I have been asking questions and taking notes so we can learn from this and grow as a community.

        I have been reflecting on why your initial post affected me so deeply. And I have shared your post with friends of different backgrounds to figure out the trends in their responses. #nerd

        As the Pink Floyd song Us and Them goes – “Me and you, God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do.”

        For me, the article felt like a permission slip for your readers to do what they have always done – permission to continue the silence, the denial, wilful ignorance and dismissal of the marginalized, disenfranchized and oppressed. I know it was unintentional because I know you. But the stakes are too high this time. And at such a critical moment in our history -it felt like abandonment of those suffering amongst us in our own backyard.

        I am aware of my own privilege as a “highly educated model immigrant” with a global background and one who is able to find belonging anywhere I go. I have been silent for a long time so I understand the reticence, the hesitation to dwell on the negative, the oppression, the dire… I felt unqualified to talk about these things because my own experiences are not typical.

        But others aren’t as priviledged and face marginalization, oppression and alienation daily.

        But I have had to step out of my comfort zone all year especially since the police shootings of “black men.” I had to start having the hard conversations. I didn’t want to, I felt limited in my capacity and capabilities. But I have had to challenge my mental conditioning to increase my capacity. New tools and skills require practice. We will be awkward in the beginning and make mistakes and even hurt people as we practice stepping out of our comfort zones to use them. But with time and guidance, as we continue to show up courageously with consistent action however imperfect, we will get better.

        So, as I reflected on why your initial post affected me the way it did. I found my answer in your statement ” any one who knows me knows what I think…”

        My frustration with your initial blog post was not that you did not care. It was that I KNEW you cared but your post did not reflect it. I have seen you and heard you and have had the honor of getting to know you more with each year. You DOcare. But for some reason, in the initial post, I heard an unwillingness to own it, to draw the line in the sand, to state things as they are, to challenge the prejudices/racial and cultural biases/oppression/marginalization/disenfranchisement of those minoritiy populations and speak publicly in support of those hurting in the community. It felt like a rush to smooth things over to reach across the aisle while your own people were still in shock.

        You have just released a massively resonant, powerful and transformative book that will draw millions to you. And they will read and share this post which already going viral. Few will read the comments and see the definitive statement you have made.

        Again, from Pink Floyd’s “Us and them”
        “out of the way, it’s a busy day,
        For want of the price of a tea and a slice,
        The old man died.”

        My concern was not only that your majority readers would move along, hanging out in comfort zones and echo-chambers, not challenging the status quo, and showing compassion and empathy for those who voted for oppression, but that new minority readers would show up and be hurt by the dismissal of their pain, just like some of your current minority readers have expressed.

        I admit that I was alarmed when I read it because I did not see the Jonathan I knew. I did not see the champion, ally and mentor I have grown to know and love over the years. He was obscured by generalities and noncommittal statements.

        My frustration was that in an understandable effort to conserve energy and sustain current efforts, the Jonathan I knew was obscured.

        The Jonathan I know is the patient, mindful and present one who sat and listened as I cried my eyes out in Chicago during the GLP immersion, completely overwhelmed and unsure of my future.

        The Jonathan I know is the one of the kindest and most generous humans I know who held my hand as I navigated the worst year of my life.

        The Jonathan I know is a courageous, gentle and powerful man who speaks his mind with words that cut straight to the heart and yet has the humility and humor to dance like no one is watching in a room full of GLeePers.

        The Jonathan I know is a flawed yes, but humble and vulnerable man who is quick to say he is sorry or wrong even though he has a huge following for raging die-hard fans.

        The Jonathan I know is the caring and insightful man who saw and heard me when I thrashed wildly as I tried to figure out who I wanted to serve with my work.

        The Jonathan I know is the thoughtful and eerily perceptive man who sent me just the right book I needed when going through an existential crisis, recorded just the right riff or wrote just the right post when I needed it.

        The Jonathan I know is the radically accepting man who had a woman of color as the representative screenshot on his camp GLP highlight reel for a whole year.

        The Jonathan I know is one who is so intune with those he serves that it often feels as if he is reading their brains.

        The Jonathan I know is the humble wise and compassionate soul who saw my potential before I even knew it and captured it in a photograph – me as a writer.

        The Jonathan I know inspires possibility and has been a muse to me, inspiring music and quests from one who had given up on her dreams.

        The Jonathan I know is a man of integrity and grace who walks his talk through and through.

        The Jonathan I know is an immensely curious and empathetic man who cares about how those around him are faring and wants to help in any way he can.

        The Jonathan I know is a widely and wildly beloved family and friend whom people aspire to imitate.

        The Jonathan I know has created a beautiful community, a container of safety, belonging, inspiration and nurturing for mission-driven individuals who want to make a positive impact in the world with meaningful work.

        This is not an exercise in blowing smoke. This is exactly how I feel about you and I make no apologies for this.

        So honestly, I was frustrated that I didn’t see that Jonathan. But he was there the whole time. I just didn’t see him obscured by the words. I know you stand against Racism. I know you stand against misogyny, homophobia and bigotry etc. I have seen you live it.

        You have had a massive impact in my life because you cared. You walked with me, supported me, encouraged me, advised me and mentored me through the worst season of my life and inspired me to do things I never imagined I would do. You have been a champion and mentor.

        Your post did not reflect who you were. And as I read the initial post I wanted to shout, “He cares! He really does!”

        Those of us who have been in the community a while know you care. But new readers don’t know you yet. And for a new reader from one of the marginalized populations who doesn’t know you as well, reading the post could potentially hurt based on their experiences.

        And many readers would not take the time to read the comments and will miss your reply.

        I would be doing a disservice to the community and to you if I had remained silent. I care about this community too much.

        With many marginalized and disenfranchized in our communities, this initial post was the right thing at the wrong time. Or it could have been split in two posts- An initial post focused on those who were hurting within our community with a call to action addressing those needs providing support and empathy, safe space for grieving and healing, advocacy and restoration. And a later second post (a month later) with the invitation to reach across the aisle to the Trump supporters who understandably also need empathy and compassion.

        This is an absurdly long post I know. But I wanted to be clear.

        I love and appreciate you, Jonathan. Keep showing up. Keep shining your light.

        I am with you and will walk alongside you through this. We are often tested on what we desire to teach. When we know better, we are required to do better and I know you are up to the challenge. I believe in you and I know you will do the work required to learn what you need to from this. Even though this is not my favorite subject, I am willing to do all I can to help, learn, support, encourage… However you need me, I am here. I believe Serendipity and Grace have created this opportunity and good will come out of this. Many will be served by the lessons that come out of this season. And someday, we will look fondly at this season in hindsight and maybe laugh a little. It will make a great story for #SuperSoulSunday . Oh yes, I believe Good things are coming. Good things are happening. #HeartSurgery #Healing #UnicornsForever #NoGLeePerLeftBehind #PinkFloydAndLedZepAllDay

        A Whole Lotta Love,
        Yvonne

        • Jonathan Fields says:

          Yvonne – Thank you so much for your grace, wisdom, kindness, faith and beautiful words. So much to learn and grow and share. The ground seems to be shifting under our collective feet at an astonishing pace. Glad to have you along with me as a friend and teacher. Much work to be done. I guess that is the practice. And, like you, I’m in it for the long-term.

          Sending a whole lotta love back your way,

          J

    • Nancy Seibel says:

      Yvonne, Thank you for sharing these important thoughts. I have been struggling mightily with the duality of the need to reach across the divide where possible, and the need to be alert to the true threat before us, to name it, face it, and do our best to fight it and protect ourselves and others who are in danger. This is a terrible and difficult duality to carry. In my own first efforts to voice this, I have not done so well as I would like. I will work to do better. Your words and the words of others who I’ve been reading and listening to are helping me find my way to a clearer mind and voice.

  59. Jonathan,

    Thank you for your eloquent passion. Your words always seem to fill the gaps left by pain, desire or wanting of some kind.

    In answer to a very young person 17 or 18 who found herself physically ill by this outcome, my words to her were to remember this feeling and to plant it in her spirit and allow it to one day give birth to action that will manifest the good that she desires at this very moment.

    I am excited for this day because I believe that it is a test of our humanity and when our humanity is tested, ultimately, it is our greater selves that prevail.

  60. Gabra says:

    Beautiful. Beautifully said, as always. Thank you for your words. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  61. Vashti Horvat says:

    Well said Jonathan. Thank you!

  62. Bob Kantor says:

    As always Jonathan, great wisdom. Thank you!

    Another way to frame this is that before we can be understood by others, we must seek to understand them. And, we must fully demonstrate to them that we understand them, in terms that work for them.

    In a nutshell, seek to understand before seeking to be understood.

    Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.

  63. julia says:

    Breath out, listen, repeat. Thanks JF, as ever. xox

  64. Maya Gaddie says:

    Always truth from you Jonathan. Thank you. I’m taking away… Conversations. Listening. Seek to Understand.

  65. Nnenna K. M. says:

    Long time fan here. In the spirit of open and difficult conversations, I have to say this is sadly one kumbaya I cannot get behind.

    As a black female immigrant, I struggled to find any comfort in this piece which is why I sincerely doubt it was written for me to start with.

    I expected more. Like, I don’t know, calling out the elephant in the room. Like spelling out what is so very wrong in what we’ve experienced these last few months and letting us know you see and hear us. And then stand with us a little while longer while we deal with our feelings (however uncomfortable they might be for the privileged) before serving up a call to action most of us marginalized people can no longer afford.

    But therein lies the problem. I think, perhaps, we expected too much from our allies.

    • Rebecca H. says:

      I agree with Nnenna.

      I don’t feel called to engage with those who embraced or overlooked racism. I’d rather direct my energy toward being an ally for those who are endangered—who are in a fight for their lives as a result of the election.

      While I was always sympathetic, I didn’t truly understand the depth of racial hatred in this country. Now I do.

      Nnenna, I am devastated that we failed to protect you. I promise I will be in the fight going forward.

    • Karen says:

      Preach, Nnanna.

  66. T Grady says:

    Thank you for such wonderful words.

    If I may share what I had posted last Friday as my attempt to sort through the collective overwhelm of emotions for myself and others.

    An expression of thoughts and gratitude after a most unusual of weeks… as the work day has wrapped up, I will board the T in Newton and take my beloved Green Line to Copley Square where I will walk down Boylston Street to ASC. As I get to my Friday night hangout, I will enter the alley way for the side entrance, go down a flight of stairs past our guests, put on a black apron, and proceed to wash dishes for a few hours. Granted it is not all that much in the scheme of things but it will be my contribution to the greater good and is the best I can offer tonight.
    Myself and those awesome people I serve with will be in service to those in need regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual preference, or political leanings as poverty plays no favorites.

    I will be grateful. Grateful for today, grateful for you, grateful to spend time with some of the most incredible people I know, and grateful that I am not on the other side of that kitchen wall in need of a meal.

    Be well and be kind my friends.

  67. Thanks, Jonathan. Your thoughtful and wise words echo what I tried to express is a sermon I preached today. http://www.leafseligman.net/a-post-election-sermon/

  68. Mark says:

    This was wonderfully phrased. Your choice of words was great – I could really hear your voice as I read each line.
    However, for me, I didn’t complete reading it, as it seemed to lose power beyond “to sustain myself physically and emotionally.”
    I believe in the power of brevity, and to use “our friend” as an example again, I surmise that the Dalai Lama would have said very little on the matter – thus giving his words extra weight.
    Something worth considering?
    Had it finished as per above, I think it would have been the most powerful discussion of the debate that’s been written.
    Wishing you well,

    • Mark says:

      PS Those words “to sustain myself physically and emotionally.” were really powerful for me. I feel I completely understand where you were coming from.
      Perhaps that’s why I would have ended it there 🙂

  69. Marlene says:

    So very well said. I am in South Africa and we have our own issues. This is universally apt message is very well timed, I love the AND vs either/or.
    Thank you!

  70. Jemma says:

    Wise words. The last paragraph felt like poetry.

  71. Fredre Dunn says:

    Thank you immensely for your words today!
    It is so pertinent to us here in South Africa as well.

  72. […] someone can articulate things just the way you wish you could have? My friend Cathy shared this blog post with me from Jonathan Fields. Here’s an excerpt. I echo his thoughts […]

  73. Gary Crabbe says:

    Great words. Shared. Conversations, open minds, empathy, and listening — ON BOTH SIDES — not close minded dogmatic yelling at each other or getting in each other’s face.

    We are all US.

  74. Martha says:

    I so appreciate you and what you’ve written, Jonathan. Thank you. May we move forward with compassion towards self and others.

  75. […] mine to add to it all? I’ve read plenty and the responses by Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault and Jonathan Fields, are those that I find the most resonant and helpful – in case you are still looking for wise […]

  76. I love this, particularly the last line about “rediscovering a more unified state of grace.” I am a new reader and just bought your new book, which I am looking forward to reading. I wanted to share my latest blog post called “The Other Side” which echoes what you’re saying, that we need to really listen and hear the other side to heal. The link is: yourworldstage.wordpress.com.

  77. Tenaya says:

    Thank you Jonathan for sharing your insight. It came at a moment of need. I have been struggling with how to come to terms with half of this nation. But I found solace in your piece. You reminded me that they have values – ones that I also strongly uphold. They vote to protect their family etc. Understanding this and extending compassion via a common ground will help to heal America and this World.

  78. Jeannine Hampen says:

    I know all of the comments are well meaning and the wish for unity and understanding completely genuine, but remarks like “We can not give them a pass” or the many reference to “leading” and “protecting” are contributing to the divide as much as the hateful things we’ve heard.
    In the lowest income world this sort of talk reads as condescending and “getting to know and understand” us makes us feel like an anthropology project, or a zoo specimen.
    It’s a fine line between helping and being a Do-Gooder.

  79. Kim says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful piece at a difficult time. It resonates deeply with the emotional rollercoaster of the past few weeks. I surprised even myself with the level of stress and actual heart pain I felt, struggling to communicate and be compassionate with family and friends who supported the other side. Meeting this hard place with a softening continues to help me shift perspective and dig deeper within myself. I’m inspired to move forward and be apart of a larger awakening. Thank you so very much for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *